Friday, October 31, 2008
Five reasons I'm glad I sucked it up and went to the NaNo Kickoff Party in my region.
1. I met nice people.
2. I won a jump drive in the drawing.
3. I got a NaNo sticker. :)
4. I got to color a picture of my 'inner editor' then seal him up in an envelope that is not to be opened until December 1st.
5. I met nice people.
I am so glad I went. And thank you to my family who went along with, sort of. I'm such a baby. Peter and James dropped Heather and I off at the coffee shop, then went to Best Buy to look at electronics. We agreed to meet at the Taco Bell next to the coffee shop after the meeting. Heather took a seat away from the meeting and worked on her own project, but for some reason, it was comforting to know she was close by. Turns out all my fears were unfounded. The people were nice, enthusiastic, and more than welcoming. We have a really fun bunch of people writing away in Rochester.
In other news, I'm guest blogging today at Seekerville, so pop on over and see how writers are like the characters on Gilligan's Island.
Also, BIG news. I've received release dates for books two and three in the Kennebrae Brides series. Book one, The Bartered Bride, releases November 2009, book two, tentatively titled The Marriage Masquerade, debuts January 2010, and the final book, tentatively titled The Engineered Engagement, comes out June 2010.
When I got the email, I danced around the room, grinning, and giggling...sadly, I was the only one home at the time and the cat looked at me like I had lost my marbles. Sigh. If she only knew how right she was. :)
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Thanks! I always think of what the character’s spiritual struggle is going to be before I even write the book, because I want to weave the things that happen to her in with the inner struggles she’s going through. A lot of times, the character’s spiritual struggles are things that I’ve gone through or are going through, which hopefully adds some realism to it ... especially if I were a gorgeous, successful video game developer. LOL
Venus is very conscious of her weight and the impact the change in weight had in her life and how people treat her. As someone who has recently lost quite a bit of weight myself, I found her character to be spot on. Do you have any personal experience in this, or did you interview someone in this position to gain this insight?
When I was single, I was incredibly disheartened by how guys treated the skinny girls versus the non-skinny girls, and at other times, it just made me mad.
I thought, what would happen if a gifted but overweight woman suddenly lost weight and saw what I saw, how guys acted differently and spoke differently to women just because they were slender?
And because Venus has more strength and self-confidence than I do, how would I wish I could react in those situations, and how would it impact a strong self-assurance?
I am still battling with my weight, (Erica here: Camy is tiny! Absolutely gorgeous.) but I could write Venus from the viewpoint of a woman who saw the double standard and could imagine how she’d respond to it when it was directed at her.
How much research did you have to do into gaming and software companies? (Venus is a programing executive in the video gaming industry.)
Not as much as I expected to, but more than actually got into the book. I had a friend who worked in the gaming industry who got me started, and then I got hooked up with a couple other guys who already work in the gaming industry, and I picked their brains. They were very nice. They’re listed in the acknowledgements section.
This book seems to be centered a lot more on Venus and her work environment than the large, noisy, sometimes messy Sakai family. Was this a conscious decision, or just the natural evolution of the series?
It was something that flowed out of Venus’s character. She’s not one to let family pressure influence her as much as her other cousins, and her relationship with Grandma is actually very different from the other cousins’ relationships with Grandma. Grandma relates to Venus on a business level as well as a family level, and so the business side of the story naturally came out more than in other books.
I loved and recognized the names of several of your characters. How do you keep all the characters' names straight in a huge cast?
I cheat. I have a Word document that has EVERYBODY’S name on it, so I don’t forget. Because I totally would.
What has been the fallout from Only Uni and the situation Trish found herself in at the end of the book? Positive? Negative? (I thought it was brilliant, and really showed the grace of God and the consequences of our decisions living on, even after we've repented.)
It’s been mostly positive, although most people were surprised. I really wanted to convey what you mentioned, that while God gives us grace, we still do have to live with consequences. It’s something I had been teaching the youth group at church at the time, and it was perfect for what I planned Trish to go through.
Once you, as an author, wrap up a series, what's next? Where do you go from here? Do you keep in mind your brand? Do you branch out into areas you're interested in?
I always keep my brand in mind and try not to deviate too far from it. However, I also look at marketing and the Christian fiction market to see what works and what doesn’t, and I try to make decisions based on what I observe or what I can predict will happen in a few months.
In planning a new book, I do not have a very “mystical” process. I decide what type of book I’m going to write, and then brainstorm ideas for a premise until I find one that resonates with me. Then I go for it.
For example, when I wanted my next book to be a Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense novel, I brainstormed plot and setting ideas until I came up with the Sonoma spa setting and a massage therapist heroine. Once I had that down, I could come up with a crime—a dead body in her massage room. Then I went about wondering the hows and whys, and planning who the villain was. In the midst of that, I plotted who the hero would be and how he becomes embroiled in the mystery.
Here’s the back cover blurb I wrote for that book, Deadly Intent (it releases in August 2009), although this blurb may not appear on the actual book:
THERE WAS A DEAD BODY IN HER MASSAGE ROOM
And massage therapist Naomi Grant is suspected of murder. She’s frustrated and helpless as a web of lies closes in around her, framing her. She doesn’t have time to worry about her shaky faith or think about her growing attraction to the victim’s ex-husband, Dr. Devon Knightley.
Orthopedic surgeon Devon had only needed to claim his mother’s necklace back from his ex-wife, but suddenly he’s embroiled in a murder investigation and someone is trying to kill him. He wants to somehow protect Naomi from the trap being set around her, but can he keep them both safe against a villain with deadly intent?
Thanks for having me here, Erica!
Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. She used to be a biologist, but now she is a staff worker for her church youth group and leads a worship team for Sunday service. She also runs the Story Sensei fiction critique service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and she ponders frivolous things like dumb dogs (namely, hers), coffee-geek husbands (no resemblance to her own...), the writing journey, Asiana, and anything else that comes to mind. Visit her website at http://www.camytang.com/ for a huge website contest going on right now, giving away ten boxes of books and 30 copies of her latest release, SINGLE SASHIMI.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Today's guest blogger is my daughter, Heather. The following is an essay she wrote for her English class at Northwestern College. She has a very proud mama.
‘When people find out that I write novels, they inevitably ask: “How do you write books?”
Would these same questioners ask a pianist: “How do you play the piano?”
Or a surgeon: “How do you perform an operation?”
Or an athlete: “How do you play ball?”
When people are asked, “Can you write?” they often say, “I don’t know; I’ve never tried.” But when you ask these same people if they can play the cello, they don’t say, “I don’t know; I’ve never tried.”
The implication here is that most people believe anyone can write—’ From How to Write and Sell a Christian Novel by Gilbert Morris.
Writing a novel takes a lot more time and effort than most people understand. I know this because my mom, Erica Vetsch, is a novelist. As her Plotting Partner and Editorial Assistant, I get to help her with her writing. Her dream of publishing a novel has taken four years to see it happen.
My mom did not start out writing novels. She started out writing fan fiction—using ideas created by others and writing stories based upon those characters and ideas. From these short stories, a bigger dream grew. “I had one particular story that had some merit, I thought, to be turned into a mainstream novel,” Mom says. “I changed the characters and setting, tweaked the storyline a lot, and rewrote it, expanding on the original idea.” After several months’ work, this story developed to become her first novel-length manuscript.
After producing her first novel, Mom was faced with the challenge of getting published. She assumed, as many new authors do, that once she had a novel finished, she naturally would get published. The process turned out to be more difficult than either of us anticipated.
Mom sent a proposal out to several different agents. Most of them sent it back with a letter of rejection, usually a basic form letter. One agent, however, seemed interested and even asked to see the whole manuscript. We were very excited when he signed Mom on. With such a wonderful book, surely offers for publishing would come pouring in!
The agent sent the story out to publishers but also encouraged Mom to keep writing. With more books to send out, Mom has a better chance of being published. In addition, Mom can grow and improve her writing skills. That first novel and several subsequent novels were met with rejections from publishers, but Mom did not give up, and each novel improved as she continued to write.
My mom often gets asked where her ideas for her novels come from. “Every author is different, and for me, the beginning idea for every book has come from a different source of inspiration. Some come from reading an account from a history book, watching a movie, or visiting a museum. Others come from brainstorming sessions with friends, from ‘what if’ questions, or as a bolt from the blue. Some ideas have staying power that can sustain an entire book, and some, after a bit of thought, fade away.”
Those ideas that stick need a bit of structure before she begins the writing process. The structure comes from plotting and research. My mom’s research takes on many forms. Because she writes historical fiction, she must research the era of history she wishes to portray. To do this we visit historical sites and museums concerning that time period.
For example, for a book set in 1905 Duluth, we visited the city of Duluth. On this trip, we took a tour of Fairlawn Mansion. This old house was turned into a museum and portrays the time period we were researching. We also toured the last remaining whaleback ship, the S.S. Meteor. This ingenious design ship design was created in the late nineteenth century and was used extensively on the Great Lakes. Last but not least, we visited Split Rock Lighthouse. This visit included a trip to the lakeshore below the lighthouse. By visiting the setting of her novel, Mom gets a feel for what this place looks like and how people would act in this place.
After thoroughly investigating the setting, Mom researches the people. “I immerse myself in the era I want to recreate. I read sourcebooks, original documents, letters, newspaper articles, and the like to capture the language and atmosphere of the era. I look at clothing, particularly women’s dress, and hairstyles. I try to find photographs if possible. This helps me stay true to the historical era and also establishes the boundaries for the setting and characters.” This often means trips to the library and to Forestville, a historical reenactment site of 1899. The tour guides all wear costumes of the era and the site has many old photographs and stories of the people who lived there. Forestville is also much closer than Duluth, so this site is our gold mine.
At this point we begin plotting. I say ‘we’ because I am heavily involved in this process. “I couldn’t plot my books without Heather. She is my brainstorming partner, sounding board, and barometer of when things just aren’t working. By the time I finish a book, Heather has listened to the plot about a dozen times, picked holes in all the weak areas, and helped me strengthen the motivations of the characters to form a cohesive story.” Sometimes the plot my mom tells me first is nothing like the finished product, which is okay, since the original plot is only an outline and easily changed.
We use many different tools to plot these novels. Many are the times I’ve seen the table covered in books, papers, and Post-it notes. As Mom tries to establish a ‘road map’ of her book, we may have impromptu plotting parties on the bed, just to talk about the story. We have used timelines, plot ‘skeletons’, and even a display board to organize the story as it unfolds. “My approach to each of the eight novels I’ve written has been different as I try to find the particular method that works best for me,’ says Mom. “I started out a completely ‘seat-of-the-pants’ writer, but now I need to have a fairly good idea where the story is going in order to present it to my editor in a proposal. This requires more planning, more forethought, and more work!”
After the book is plotted comes the writing. This is the part that Mom does mostly herself. Typing on her laptop, Mom writes at least some on her novel every weekday. About every other Saturday, she goes to the library or a local restaurant to find a quiet place to have a big writing day away from distractions. I have been known to accompany her on these outings. Trips to the library are beneficial, because she gets more done on these days than when she stays home.
“I currently write about two books per year. From initial plotting to the final polish takes about six months. I typically set a word count goal of at least one thousand words per day. On days I write away from home, the word count is set at three to four thousand. My best day so far has been around nine thousand words, but that was mostly due to being at the end of a book. The pace always picks up towards the end of a novel.”
Once the first draft is completed the editing process begins. This part in the development of the book once again requires the help of others, including me. The first step in editing is the pencil edit phase. The novel is printed out on paper, and Mom reads it aloud as I listen. Between the two of us, we pick out redundant word usage, places where sentences are not clear, and sections that could be improved by additional plotting or description. After the pencil edits, the corrections get typed into the computer.
“I have trusted friends who read the manuscript once it is completed, and they critique it, helping me see errors or weaknesses that I don’t see because I am too close to the work. These friends are authors too, and I return the favor by critiquing their work. This kind of input is invaluable for me.”
Once the manuscript is finished, Mom compiles a proposal packet. This includes a synopsis of the novel, some sample chapters, a brief author bio, ideas for marketing, and ideas for sequels to this book. The proposal is sent to Mom’s agent, who sends it to publishers.
Getting a story from an author’s initial idea through the publishing process and onto bookstore shelves takes effort from a lot of people and a considerable amount of time. “No novel arrives on the shelves without a team effort. The author writes the book. Then the editors edit it to make it stronger and eliminate any errors. The marketing team, publicity team, cover artwork team, and the author all work together to make the book as saleable to the targeted audience as possible. From the edited/revised stage, the book is typeset, proofed yet again in the galley/mock-up stage, and then sent to print. Advanced copies might go out for review, and the book is advertised in the publishing house’s catalog. The book goes out to bookstores, book clubs, and other venues for sale. It’s a long process, often taking eighteen months or more from the time the contract is signed to the time the book is available to the reader.”
When asked how to get published, my mom has several things she tells aspiring novelists. “First, sit down and write. There is no substitute for writing. Most people don’t want to write; they want to have written. A lot of people have stories in their heads, but they will never be published until they put their backside in the chair and put words on the screen. Second, be persistent. Overnight success in this business is so rare as to be almost a myth. On average, it takes an author about five years and about five ‘practice’ novels before they produce something ready for publication. This takes a certain amount of stubbornness and belief in yourself. Don’t quit. About the time you want to throw in the towel, you’re just about there.”Though the road to publication is difficult, it is also rewarding. This past September, after four years and several novels, my mom finally got a contract to publish one of her books. Her novel, The Bartered Bride, releases in November of next year from Barbour Publishing. My mom is proof that with hard work and determination, dreams can come true.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Author Bio: Marcia Gruver is a full time writer who hails from Southeast Texas. Inordinately enamored by the past, Marcia delights in writing historical fiction. Her deep south-central roots lend a Southern-comfortable style and a touch of humor to her writing. Recently awarded a three-book contract by Barbour Publishing, she’s busy these days pounding on the keyboard and watching the deadline clock.
Marcia’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW); the Christian Authors Network (CAN!); Faith, Hope, & Love (FHL)-the Inspirational Outreach Chapter of the Romance Writers of America; Fellowship of Christian Writers (FCW); The Writers View; and a longstanding member of ACFW Crit3, her brilliant and insightful critique group.
Lifelong Texans, Marcia and her husband, Lee, have one daughter and four sons. Collectively, this motley crew has graced them with ten grandchildren and one great-granddaugh ter—so far.
Please tell us a little bit about who Marcia Gruver is. Which Marcia? Like everyone else, who I am depends on the hat on my head. I’m wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, granny, and just recently, great-granny to a little sprite of a girl who seems well qualified to carry our legacy into the future. Even more recently, I’m a published author of inspirational fiction. How about that? Marcia Gruver is content, well loved, fulfilled, and grateful to God for every second of her life.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Guilty secret time? I love to play video games. I look for any slip of time and any excuse to play. I also love to read and watch movies in all genres.
In Diamond Duo, your character Bertha is a breath of fresh air with her fun and refreshing sense of humor. If I were to ask those close to you about your sense of humor, would they describe similarities between you and Bertha? Oh, boy! I’m afraid so. I’m actually dry and rather reserved at first—so much so that I’ve been accused of having a split personality. When I’m very relaxed and get to know a person well, the real me comes out to play. Yep, the lights are on and a whole bunch of us are home.
When you sit down to read for pleasure what authors do you choose? Linda Nichols, Kristen Heitzman, and Brandilyn Collins are at the top of the list. But I have so many books in my ‘To Be Read’ pile, I just know there are favorites sitting there waiting to be discovered.
What three books that you’ve read this past year would you recommend others rush to the bookstore and purchase? That’s a tough one. Readers’ tastes are so diverse, especially in fiction. For instance, I write quirky, sweet historical romance with a thread of adventure to spice it up a bit. I realized going in that this wouldn’t appeal to every reader. In the same way, there’s a huge fan base for the spooky novels written by Brandilyn Collins, yet I happen to know people too scared to read them. A great testimony to the quality of her work, by the way. It breaks my heart to read a scathing review of an author’s hard work, written by a person who had no business picking it up in the first place.
Nonfiction? I highly recommend The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls. This book almost reads like fiction and is an incredible ride.
If you could take your dream vacation, where would you go and who would go with you? I once would’ve said England. I love the Brits. After watching Under the Tuscan Sun with Diane Lane, I’m now captivated by Tuscany. Whichever destination I chose, my traveling partner would have to be my hubby. He’s great to talk to. But since he wouldn’t take off work to go, I’d take my daughter Tracy, the most fun person I know.
An interview with Marcia about the book:
Tell us about Diamond Duo. Bertha Maye Biddie’s in love. Trouble is, she’s not sure the object of her affection feels the same. He seems to be interested, but something’s holding him back. So when opportunity rides into Jefferson on the northbound train out of Marshall, young Bertha leaps at the chance to learn a few tricks. A charming, charismatic stranger offers to take Bertha under her wing and teach her the art of wooing a man. But when the woman is unable to keep her promise, Bertha realizes their chance meeting held far more eternal significance.
Where did the idea for Diamond Duo come from? On a trip to Jefferson, Texas, I heard the true story of the unsolved murder of the infamous Diamond Bessie, aka Annie Monroe. In 1877, a flashy, well-dressed couple rode a train into town for a short visit. They checked into a hotel as A. Monroe and wife. The woman seemed to go by more than one name, one of them Bessie Moore. Because she wore several large diamond rings, supposedly gifts offered in exchange for immoral favors, the locals soon dubbed her “Diamond Bessie.”
On the last day of Bessie’s life, she and her companion, Abraham Rothschild, took a picnic basket into the woods. He came out alone, wandering the streets of Jefferson by himself for several days. When asked about Bessie, he said she was staying with nearby friends, and would return in time for their departure. However, he left by himself two days later, carrying Bessie’s luggage along with his own.
A local woman discovered poor Bessie’s body in the woods several days later. Jefferson officials went after Abraham Rothschild and tried him for her murder, but due to his money and considerable influence, he was acquitted.
While standing over Diamond Bessie’s grave, assuming her eternal fate, I found myself wondering: “What if?” Maybe history had been unkind to Bessie. What if she wasn’t as bad as some claimed? Suppose God had arranged a surprise finish for her—a loving, merciful end that no one would’ve expected?
How did you become interested in the real life murder of Annie Monroe? It’s hard to visit historic Jefferson, Texas without tripping over Annie’s story. Diamond Bessie has become a tourist attraction, and the locals seem more than eager to tell the account. The shops abound with books on the topic, one penned by Jefferson historian, Fred McKenzie. Every year, during Jefferson’s annual Pilgrimage Festival, the residents perform in a play entitled “The Diamond Bessie Murder Trial.” The play is derived from court transcripts, and it’s really quite an event!
You have several themes woven into Diamond Duo. Could share them with us?Young Bertha Biddie schemes to win the affections of Thaddeus Bloom, a man bound by honor to his father’s dream. She gets a lesson on honor herself when God asks her to risk her future with Thad to help a stranger.
Thad learns the importance of listening to his mama the hard way, but wonders if it’s fair to expect him to sacrifice his happiness in obedience to his father’s plans for his life.
Sarah King is used to better treatment from her fellow man regardless of race, but forgets her husband deserves the same regard. Her unbridled temper and acrid tongue threaten to drive him away, until the pure heart of a tragic stranger teaches Sarah a lesson in colorblind acceptance.
In Diamond Duo, Bertha feels solely responsible for leading Annie Monroe out of her lifestyle and into a believer’s world. Have you ever had a similar experience in your life? I think every Christian feels a strong compulsion to share God’s grace once they’ve had a taste. If you think about it, given the Great Commission, we’re all solely responsible for leading those in our paths to God.
How do you research a historical project for accuracy? Actually, I begin most of my research on Amazon.com. They have books on every imaginable topic. No, I don’t own shares of stock, but I should by now.
After I pore over written material to get a visual of the period, I plan a visit to the area where the book is set. For my Texas Fortunes Series, I spent a week in Jefferson, Texas researching Diamond Duo, book one. Book two was easy. I live just a few miles from Humble Texas, the setting for Chasing Charity. My family all work in the oil patch and have for generations. My contractor husband is currently on a job in South Texas, so I was fortunate to spend several months in Carrizo Springs researching book three, Emmy’s Equal. There’s no substitute for walking the streets, exploring the sites, haunting the libraries, and talking to the locals. However, I’ve discovered the little details that provide historical accuracy need constant verification. I do my best, but I don’t know if it’s possible to get all the facts right. I use the Internet some, but you have to be careful with information gleaned from the web. Not every source can be trusted.
You have so many wonderful and unique characters in Diamond Duo. Which of the characters do you identify with and why? This question makes me smile. I’ve been accused of being the inspiration for Bertha Maye Biddie—a free-spirited rebel with an aversion to shoes. I think that’s me on the inside.
Can you tell us about your next book? Chasing Charity, book two in the Texas Fortunes series, picks up in Humble, Texas, several years after Diamond Duo ends. Charity Bloom, Bertha’s daughter, stands at the altar watching her best friend flee the church on the heels of her departing fiancé. This is the final straw for Charity, who is distressed by the many changes taking place in her life and in her hometown, most notably the devastation wrought after oil is discovered near Humble. Imagine Charity’s surprise when one of the men responsible comes to her rescue, and she finds her heart torn between two suitors—the handsome roughneck and the deceitful rogue who broke her heart.
Praise for Diamond Duo:
Diamond Duo is alive with great characters, brought to life under Marcia Gruver’s unique skill. The charm of the little details and the big picture of tension and murder will keep you turning the pages. Mary Connealy- author of the Lassoed in Texas series
With lyrical prose and a cast of characters that will remain in your heart long after the last page is turned, Marcia Gruver’s debut novel is a must-read. Whether you’re seeking a romance, a wonderful Southern story or an escape to another time, Diamond Duo is a masterpiece waiting to be found. Kathleen Y’barbo author of the Fairweather Key series
Marcia Gruver’s writing is witty, charming and historically accurate. She pulls you into the lives of the characters and makes you feel as though you’re actually walking and talking with them. Best of all, she captures the true feel of the setting, (a real strength in her stories). I can’t recommend Diamond Duo strongly enough! Janice Thompson author of the Bridal Mayhem series
Well-written, delightful characters—Diamond Duo is the most entertaining historical to come around in a long time. Elizabeth Ludwig author of Where the Truth Lies and Died in the Wool
Diamond Duo is a beautifully written historical rich in authentic period details with well-developed characters, and a plot that keeps you turning the pages. Marcia Gruver brings us a bit of suspense, a sweet and unpredictable romance, and life lessons along the way. You’re sure to be entertained and come away with questions about your own faith and sense of urgency in bringing the Good News to those in need. What more could you ask for in a Christian fiction novel? Susan Sleeman author of the Garden Gate Mystery series
This is the first installment of a new series, Texas Fortunes, by a talented author who works factual happenings into her fiction. Readers will root for the protagonists of this charming tale..Romantic Times - Four starsThe first Texas Fortunes historical romance is a terrific late Reconstruction era tale that brings to life a port city. The murder of Annie also known as Diamond Bessie Monroe is a real event that anchors the well written story line; as Marcia Gruver easily blends fact and fiction. With a strong cast especially the lead couple who each has self esteem issues, fans of Reconstruction Era romances will want to read the delightful DIAMOND DUO. Harriet Klausner – Amazon’s #1 reviewer
Visit the following blogs this week for more of Marcia Gruver and Diamond Duo.
A Latte and Some Words
Simple LivingChristian Style
My Review: I found this book fresh and refreshing. Marcia's turn of phrase uses the unexpected word, but also the perfect phrasing to make you feel as if you are in Texas during Reconstruction. The ending is particularly satisfying, romantic, and heart-warming. I highly recommend this book.
Remember, leave a comment for a chance to win your own copy.
You can visit Marcia's blog HERE.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Reading the NaNo forums again, I found a thread in the Romance Forum for listing your favorite pet peeves found in romantic fiction. I thought I'd kype the idea for the Friday Five today.
My Five Favorite Romantic Fiction Pet Peeves:
1. "The Misunderstanding". You know the situation where if they hero and heroine would've just talked for two minutes, the whole problem could've been resolved. "I wasn't talking about YOU when I said she was ugly as a mud fence, I was talking about my favorite cow, little lady!"
2. The I Hate You I Hate You I Hate You, wait, we're only six pages from the end of the book I Love You. If you loathed the socks off the guy for 189 pages, I find it hard to believe that without the slightest bit of light dawning in your head, dear heroine, that a bolt from the blue will change all those loathings to love in an instant.
3. That the hero has to be independently wealthy in order to make a good hero. Joe the Plumber would not approve!
4. While I don't like the brainless-poor-me-I-need-a-hero-to-rescue-me heroine, neither do I care for the macho, man-busting female who doesn't need anyone and condescends to allow a male into her life just because he's a hunk. It's okay to admit we need someone else, that we need help, that we might even have a soft side that likes a man to do things for us from time to time. I sure do.
5. In sweet romances, my pet peeve is two people that are so spiritually high-minded that they're no earthly good. They don't seem to think about the physical attraction that should happen between a man and woman in love. They don't seem to suffer from uncertainty or jealousy or wonder if their outfit makes them look fat. This trend is dying out, thankfully, and the characters are becoming more realistic. But when I run across a story like that these days, I tend to put it aside. I can't ever be like those people, and frankly, I don't think anyone can.
How about you? Do you have a romance pet peeve? Any of the ones I have resonate with you?
Thursday, October 23, 2008
NaNo is fast approaching, and the NaNo forums are alive and well. I've gotten a kick out of reading the posts of dozens of writers. Writers are a strange breed.
One topic that came up was "Writing Totems," those items one has to have with them in order to feel comfortable while writing. Some things give inspiration, some give comfort, some just put you in that 'other world' place you need to be in to write a lot.
Items included fingerless gloves and sparkly beenie baby kittens. Some needed chai tea or candy corn. Some wore their Viking hat complete with horns, or a ratty old Tigers baseball cap.
My writing totem is my monkey. A gift from a friend three years ago, this little monkey goes with me everywhere when I write away from home. He is on a lanyard that has my jump drive on it. Also on the lanyard is a little crown, a gift from another friend.
How about you? Do you have a writing totem? What item gets your creative juices flowing?
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries, by Kathy Lynn Emerson. Doesn't this one sound neat? I like to include a little danger/mystery/suspense in my historical novels, but I've never written a true historical whodunit. I had a flicker of an idea for an historical series of mysteries, so I'm going to jot down a few ideas and see what transpires.
This is the book I purchased today. I've worked hard on beginnings, worked hard on middles, but I want to really begin working hard on my endings. Happily Ever After is the promise you make to your romance reader, and I want to make sure mine deliver on the promise. I have a tendency to rush my endings instead of giving an emotionally satisfactory tie-up of all loose ends finale. I'm hopeful this book can help me gain some insight into how to wrap up a novel in a satisfying way.
How about you? Do you have a craft book you particularly like? Anything you're currently working on to improve your craft? Any new technique you've learned or gem you've come across?
Monday, October 20, 2008
As you can see, my babies aren't babies anymore. These pictures are from a night when we were playing with my new digital camera. Everyone must've been in a giddy mood.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Here's Heather with her handiwork. She is so creative, and had lots of ideas. She told me what she needed for pictures and print matter, and then took off.
Page one is the author page. She used a photo of me, one of my business cards, and my author bio. Along the right hand side are pictures of my support staff, Peter, Heather, and James. Also, my two blue finalist ribbons, and a quote from my agent when he offered representation back in January of 2005 found their way on the page. My favorite part is the ribbon across the top and the paperclips with letters that spell out AUTHOR. The picture frame around my picture has a border of ink pens. The paper in the background is different printed samples, type and handwritten.
Page two is divided by a black ribbon. The top half of the page is dedicated to the ACFW Conference Genesis Contest. She used pictures of my plaque and my certificate, as well as small pictures of me on the night of the banquet. Also making an appearance is Mary Connealy, who won first place in the Short Historical category of the ACFW Book of the Year.
This page is for the first book in the Kennebrae Brides series: The Bartered Bride. Heather used a sepia-toned paper with wedding cakes on it to build the page. The color photo is of the arial lift bridge in Duluth Harbor (the book is set in Duluth) and the other two photos are of 1905 era steamer cargo ships on Lake Superior. Heather included a brief description of the book, as well as stickers showing musical notes and piano keys, since the heroine is an accomplished pianist. A wedding cake sticker and gold-foil hearts complete the page. Well, almost. She left a place for a picture of the book cover when we get it.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I suppose this would be like having a virtual pet. (And I do have a Facebook virtual dog; and Alsatian named Winston Churchill--what can I say? I love irony.) But I'd hate to be digging for my lip balm inside Fido.
Is this the frog formerly known as prince? I slay me.
This one takes the biscuit. I really don't want a skinned Bambi head looking at me every time I need to search for exact change.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I'm down two pounds this morning for a total of 56. Yee haw! :D
The last couple weeks have really been a struggle. Not so much with what I have been eating but not wanting to move my tookis. Last night I got on the treadmill for the first time in a long while. (I've been doing my walking outside since I live in MN and winter is coming. There will be plenty of time to walk indoors in the upcoming months. But even my outside walking has fallen off a bit.) I also hiked the incline on the treadmill so I was working harder than I have in the past. I was wiped out when I got done. Man...I don't know how some people do it. But it was worth it. My weight has been bouncing around/holding steady for the past two weeks, and this morning it was down two pounds. The digits on the scale are into whole new territory. This is about what I weighed when I had my first child.
Whenever I get discouraged, I take a look at some before and now pictures, and I imagine 56 one pound packages of ground beef piled up on my counter. That's a lot. And I've lost more now than I still have remaining to lose to reach my goal. A little at a time. :)
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
This is probably how I will be during NaNoWriMo.
Today was devoted to more plotting. I'm being very deliberate about my plotting for this next novel. This is a picture of James peeking over my plot board. Post it Heaven! Pink is for the heroine's POV scenes, Blue is for the Hero (Not very original, I know, but it works for me). Orange is the KABOOM moment in the book when all hope seems lost. Purple tiny post its are when my bad guy is in a scene. (Gotta track the bad guys.) And little yellow notes are the places where I don't have something figured out yet. They have single questions on them like "Setting?" and "Sabotage?"
And for CJ, that is your IM window on the laptop. :)
Using this plot board, I was able to write a 4K word six page chapter-by-chapter synopsis of the book. Yay! Actual writing. It felt so good today to get back to writing. It's been far too long.
On another happy note, this is a picture of me signing my very first book contract. :D
Monday, October 13, 2008
The picture has nothing to do with Facebook, except that Facebook is a fruit-salad of happy little time suckers.
But I've connected with friends from college, from childhood, from church, and conference. (How's that for alliteration?)
This week my eldest jumped into the Facebook pool. She's actually had the temerity to throw a sheep at her mother! I so had to use the force on her.
Superpoking your offspring is pretty fun, as is having a virtual dog. He's cute, he is easily trained, and I don't have to clean up after him. I can't lose!
I also enjoy Pieces of Flair. By far my favorite one is "Do you think it's because we're AWESOME? I think it's because we're awesome!"
The temptation is to check Facebook nearly as often as I check my email. Virtual dogs have been known to chew on manuscripts! EEEK! Don't think that would fly too well with an editor. "Um, my virtual dog ate it."
Do you have an online time-sucking temptation? Wait, I'll be back for your answer as soon as I go update my status on Facebook. ;)
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Barbour Publishing Awards Three Contracts to Authors at ACFW
Contact: Angie Brillhart,
Uhrichsville, OH—Continuing an annual tradition, editors from Barbour Publishing awarded surprise contracts to several unpublished authors at this year’s American Christian Fiction Writers Conference held in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“Barbour has been doing this since at least 2003, and we are pleased to make dreams come true for unpublished authors,” said Rebecca Germany, fiction editor for Barbour. Contracts were awarded to Annalisa Daughety, Susan Sleeman, and Erica Vetsch.
Annalisa Daughety was awarded a three-book contract for her Walk in the Park series. The first book in this series, Love is a Battlefield, will be released in October 2009. Annalisa was also recognized for this book in the Genesis contest for unpublished authors, winning first place for contemporary romance. Annalisa was an American Studies Major/History Minor at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, TN. After college, she worked as a park ranger for Shiloh National Military Park. Using her experiences as a park ranger, Annalisa loves to put the settings of her stories in national parks. She now lives in Memphis, TN. Find out more about Annalisa at http://www.annalisadaughety.com/.
Also joining the Barbour family will be Susan Sleeman. Sleeman’s first cozy mystery, Nipped in the Bud, is slated for release in May/June 2009. Long before she knew she would be one of Barbour’s published authors, Susan had been an avid supporter and promoter of Barbour’s new cozy mystery line, Heartsong Presents—MYSTERIES! Sleeman’s enthusiasm for the inspirational mystery and suspense genres is contagious. Check out her popular review site at http://www.thesuspensezone.com/. For a more personal look into the author’s life and works, visit http://www.susansleeman.com/. Susan Downs, acquiring editor for the HPM line says, “Susan Sleeman is just the kind of author I’m constantly searching to find. She not only writes a great story, but she also infuses fresh energy and excitement into a perennial reader favorite—the cozy mystery.”
Erica Vetsch was awarded a contract with Barbour’s Heartsong Presents line for her book The Bartered Bride, due to release in the Heartsong Presents book club in November 2009. Erica lives in Rochester, Minnesota, and enjoys her roles as a home-school mom and bookkeeper for the family business, Vetsch Hardwoods, Inc. Visit Erica’s blog at http://onthewritepath.blogspot.com/ to learn more about her and her current projects. “The Bartered Bride is an engaging, romantic read. I’m excited to work with Erica Vetsch on this book and more in the future for Heartsong Presents,” said JoAnne Simmons, Heartsong Presents editor.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Congratulations to CJ!
We held a drawing (using my son's new Helga Hat - a MUST for every true Minnesota Vikings fan) and of the five eligible names, my daughter pulled out CJ's!
CJ's name will now be entered in the grand prize drawing for a HUGE-MONGOUS Christmas gift basket. The winner will be announced October 19th at The Scrapbook Blog.
Thank you to everyone who participated, and particularly to my friend Karen Robbins for including me in this blog tour.
I'm told a copy of A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts is even now winging its way toward me. I can't wait to read it!
Friday, October 10, 2008
Last night, for some inexplicable reason, I dreamed about college. I graduated in 1992 with a Bachelor's degree in Secondary Education: Social Sciences from Calvary Bible College in Kansas City, Missouri.
So today's Friday Five is:
The Five Best Pranks I Can Remember From College:
1. A group of guys took every piece of furniture and every personal belonging of one of the guys in Stephen Dorm out of his room and reassembled it in total on the lawn just as it had been in the guy's room. This included the aquarium on his dresser. The entire school walked by on the way to the dining hall. It was great. :)
2. A group of girls bribed two guys to pull pranks in the guys' dorm. They vaselined the doorknobs, wrote in lipstick on the mirrors, and generally made a nuisance of themselves. This wasn't the best part. The guys (my husband included) who had their rooms messed with, found out who had pulled this prank, and went after the two guys. These guys thought they were going to be thrown into the showers fully clothed. (A common activity in the guys' dorm, I'm told.) But instead, the vengeful mob stripped them down to their BVD's and all signed their names on various parts of the perpetrator's anatomies in Black Sharpie Marker. Very large, scrawling signatures in permanent ink. Brilliant.
3. One group of guys took a couple rolls of fishing line and threaded them through all the furniture and belongings of a fellow's room. Through the sleeves of all his clothes, around the legs of the furniture. I'm told, though I didn't get to see it, that the room looked like a huge cobweb when they were done. Revenge was had when the guy removed the fishing line, cut it into small pieces and tossed it like confetti into the perpetrators' room as he walked by. Plastic snow.
4. One man taped a bedsheet over the inside of a dorm room door, then closed the door and from the outside, through the gap at the top of the door between the door and the door frame, filled the area between the bedsheet and the backside of the door with paper wads. When the occupant came home, he opened the door and an avalanche of paper wads cascaded upon him. I'm told the paperwads found their way back into the perpetrator's room, into his shoes, his bureau drawers, his bed, and other places for many moons.
5. The biggest and best prank I can remember was a revenge prank. I don't know what started it, but one of the guys on campus got all his friends to use their air popcorn poppers to make garbage bags of popcorn. This took days to get enough. He then proceded to fill up a girl's car with the popcorn. He was nice enough to put garbage bags over the seats first, and to use only air-popped popcorn so there was no grease. The car was filled to within a few inches of the roof.
Do you remember a good college prank?
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Monday, October 06, 2008
In the past, I've not been too much of a detailed plotter, but knowing NaNo is coming and knowing I will be better equipped to type faster if I have a good idea where I'm going, I'm plotting with a vengeance.
So I'm dedicating the month of October to plotting. I've incorporated ideas from The Portable Plotting Board (More info about this on Seekerville), Debra Dixon's Goal, Motivation, Conflict, and a new computer program I came across called yWriter 4. I'm also incorporating some of the ideas from First Draft in 30 Days by Karen Weisner. It's a hodgepodge, but it is working for me.
So far, I feel as if I know my characters better and have a better grasp of the story I want to tell. This might be because this story is the third in a series and I've had the plot in my mind for quite some time, but it might also be because I'm being so deliberate about getting the story laid out and making sure all the parts fit before November 1st.
How about you? Virtual plotter? Outliner, Details, GMC's? Discovery writer? Headlight writer?
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Friday, October 03, 2008
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Also, I wanted to blog the Great Minnesota Banquet Attire Safari.
As posted in previous blogs here, I had a hard time finding anything to wear to the ACFW Awards Banquet held Sept. 20th in Minneapolis. My daughter and I scoured the stores in Rochester for anything suitable. I finally settled on a blinged out camisole and jacket in black and silver. I wasn't in love with it, but it would do. Especially since I am not much of a shopper at the best of times, and couldn't face one more store.
That was about five weeks before the banquet. The week before the banquet, I tried the outfit on again, and GASP! I had lost so much weight in those five weeks that the outfit no longer fit me. It hung on me and the neckline...well, let's just say I couldn't wear that in public.
So Kaye and I went on a safari hunt for a new outfit.
We started at The Phenomenal Woman, a consignment shop in Zumbrota, MN, about thirty miles from my house. Though I tried on a lot of outfits, and even bought a very soft pale purple sweater, I didn't find anything 'banquet-ish' to suit my taste. Kaye found a couple of jackets.
Drove back to Rochester and stopped at the Fashion Bug. I'm not sure if it was that I wasn't communicating well to the sales lady or if she wasn't hearing me, but somehow 'looking for something for a formal banquet' was translated 'how about this plain button down shirt in pale pink?'. Nada at the Fashion Bug.
Drove to Lane Bryant. Their idea of formal is purple paisley cross-over blouse layered over a white oxford. Nope, nothing banquetish here either.
Next stop Apache Mall. JC Penney, Herberger's, Macy's. If I wanted to go to the jr. prom, I had lots of options (but only if I was a size 2). Everything else looked 'mother of the bride' or 'wife of the deceased'.
I was about to give up hope and wondering how I might salvage the original outfit, when we stumbled into Sears. And there it was on the clearance rack. A jacket in my favorite red, with big black buttons. PERFECT, and I got it for a song. Something to wear to the banquet, and also something I would wear again to church. Color me happy!
A quick dash to the Dress Barn for a new black lightweight sweater to go under it, and I was all set.
Here I am in my red jacket after the awards banquet. I returned the silver and black bling thing for store credit at Dress Barn...oh joy...now I can buy some new clothes...in a smaller size this time.
I figure I'm about 15 pounds from being able to buy clothes from the 'non plus' size racks. Cheaper, and more choices. WOOHOO!